2:30 PM – 3:45 PM TR
What is a possible human language? This course will explore this question by specifically focusing on the sound system of language. Our study of the sound system will be the vehicle through which we will confront six broad and fundamental problems in the study of language. These include questions about the universal properties of language, the range of variation in language, the way in which language is acquired, the potential for language change, and the social implications of the study of language, with particular emphasis on health and technology. In addressing each problem, we will consider the scientific methods that have been developed, the issues that have sparked debate, and the theoretical, methodological, and applied challenges that remain unsolved. Course requirements include readings, classroom participation, essays, quizzes and exams.
In content, this course is intended to provide students with an introduction to linguistics, in general, and to phonology (i.e., the study of sound systems), in particular. At the completion of this course, students will have basic working knowledge of the formal study of language, and in how this knowledge may be used to inform application. This will be facilitated through use of objective exams as one measure of proficiency. Students will also learn of a range of scientific methodologies employed in the study of speech sound systems. This will be facilitated through (1) in-class demonstration experiments (e.g., reading speech spectrograms), (2) videotaped demonstrations (e.g., procedures used to evaluate infant speech perception), and (3) direct hands-on-use of such methods (e.g., transcribing with the International Phonetic Alphabet). Finally, students will learn to solve basic problems in the analysis of speech sound systems. Such problems are central to defining a possible language and its range of variation, and will include samples pertaining to inventory structure, allophonic variation, and phonological neutralization. This goal will be facilitated through lectures, classroom discussion, and weekly quizzes that present students with a linguistic problem for solution.
In complement to the course content, students will learn:
The course introduces a central question for study, and extends it by posing a series of problems that seemingly challenge the underlying question. The course emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving in its linguistic content, in the classroom style of the instructor, and in the requirements. Classroom participation, weekly quizzes, and essays are especially pertinent in this regard. The course provides an opportunity for students to come to their own conclusions and interpretations of evidence using written and verbal formats. The course is also multidisciplinary in its integration of theory, methodology and application, speech production and perception, and topics that impact the lifespan (i.e. infancy through the historical study of change).